President meets tech-savvy seniors of St John's Home

President Halimah Yacob chatting with St John's Home resident Tan Sing Choon, 93, and volunteer Anita Lin (left, in blue), 72, yesterday. Accompanying the President are Potong Pasir MP Sitoh Yi Pin (behind Madam Lin) and Mr Woon Wee Yim, the home's c
President Halimah Yacob chatting with St John's Home resident Tan Sing Choon, 93, and volunteer Anita Lin (left, in blue), 72, yesterday. Accompanying the President are Potong Pasir MP Sitoh Yi Pin (behind Madam Lin) and Mr Woon Wee Yim, the home's chairman.ST PHOTO: JONATHAN CHOO
President Halimah Yacob chatting with St John's Home resident Tan Sing Choon, 93, and volunteer Anita Lin (left, in blue), 72, yesterday. Accompanying the President are Potong Pasir MP Sitoh Yi Pin (behind Madam Lin) and Mr Woon Wee Yim, the home's c
Arvind Sharma

Having been an MP for 16 years, and a head of state since last year, President Halimah Yacob is no stranger to being interviewed.

But it was a different kind of interview for her yesterday as she fielded questions ranging from whether prawn sambal was served at the Istana to whether she would be dancing at the President's Star Charity event next month.

Madam Halimah was asked these questions by eight residents, aged between 66 and 91, of the St John's Home for Elderly Persons during a visit there.

Resident Arvind Sharma, 75, told The Straits Times: "I was curious about what they ate at the Istana, plus I am a fan of Malay food like sambal."

The eight residents also shot videos of Madam Halimah on their smartphones as she toured the home in Wan Tho Avenue.

In May, the residents had made a video that was posted on crowdfunding site Giving.sg and was part of a campaign that has raised $200,000 for the redevelopment of the home.

Madam Halimah said their effort is proof that senior citizens are also able to leverage on technology and be productive members of society.

ON THE ISTANA MENU

I was curious about what they ate at the Istana. Plus I am a fan of Malay food like sambal.

RESIDENT ARVIND SHARMA, 75.

"They have managed to raise quite a significant amount, and as I spoke to them, they were so proud of it," she said, adding that society needs to change its perspective on senior citizens.

Madam Halimah was accompanied by St John's Home chairman Woon Wee Yim and Potong Pasir MP Sitoh Yih Pin as she toured the grounds of the 60-year-old facility - which caters to those over 60 years old who are ambulant - and viewed plans for its redevelopment.

She also celebrated the birthdays of six of the home's 79 residents, who are aged between 72 and 91 and have their birthdays this month, with a cake-cutting ceremony in the home's dining hall.

 

The $15 million redevelopment will include a new five-storey building, which is expected to be completed by the end of 2020.

There will be an increase in the number of beds from 86 to 150, greater privacy for residents and improved facilities.

A groundbreaking ceremony for the new building was held earlier this month.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 28, 2018, with the headline 'President meets tech-savvy seniors of St John's Home'. Print Edition | Subscribe